For a big, bruising running back, it doesn’t get much better than the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide have produced two first-round backs in the last two years, and they have a stable of players in the backfield this year who could potentially get drafted.
That’s why Derrick Henry, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound athlete who’s set on playing running back, has taken interest in Alabama. Henry committed to Georgia last July, but UA has started to pick up its recruitment in recent weeks, and it’s hard to look past the Tide’s track record.
“It speaks for itself,” Henry said. “Mark [Ingram] and Trent [Richardson] both went in the first round. Mark won the Heisman for the first time for their school, and Trent brought home the Doak Walker Award. Mark had a pretty good year in the pros, and I’m sure Trent will do just as well.”
The only question is whether or not Henry plays running back at the next level. Many coaches and scouts believe he’s too big to play the position and that he should move over to the defensive side of the ball.
However, other coaches who have come by Yulee High School to watch him say he reminds them a lot of St. Louis Rams running back Stephen Jackson, according to his head coach Bobby Ramsay.
“He’s a taller guy with a large build that can play running back,” Ramsay said. “I think he can do it. That’s certainly what he wants to do, but he’s a talented kid, so I could see where people like him as a defensive player, too.”
There’s been reports that both Alabama and Georgia have talked about moving Henry to defense once he gets to their respective campus, but Ramsay says UA head coach Nick Saban has been up front with Henry throughout the whole process.
“Nick Saban doesn’t need to lie to anybody,” Ramsay said. “He’s a running back, and he’s telling him that. If he doesn’t get him, he can find another player. That’s just the way it works. I don’t think you want to deceive anybody, bring him into your program and move him to another position.”
If it’s any indication, the Tide sent running backs coach Burton Burns to see Henry on Monday even though Burns primarily recruits the Louisiana area. After Burns watched practice, the two talked later that night over the phone.
“It went well,” Henry said. “I really enjoyed talking to him to see what he runs, see how he felt, get a background and talk to him about the program. We talked about me if I came there with Coach Saban and the players. It went real good.”
Although he’s still committed to Georgia, Henry is planning to visit Alabama on June 8. It will be his first trip back to Tuscaloosa since the Tide took on LSU at home last fall.
“I’m very excited because I finally get a chance to see the campus, get the whole nine yards, see the players, talk to them and get their side of it, and meet with the coaches,” Henry said. “I’m ready to get down there.”
The ESPN 150 star wrapped up spring practice on Thursday night with the Yulee spring game. He played just one series but had close to 35 yards on six carries.